Online, we are both a product for corporations and a person of interest to governments (2, 3).
Corporations are taking advantage of these times by changing their privacy policies so that they can track us, use us, and sell us whatever their algorithms decide that we need or want based on data they have acquired about our movements, contacts, desires, fantasies, or kinks. Governments on the other hand are using our data to make sure that we will never acquire enough power to change any policies that we deem to be a threat to our happiness, livelihood, or survival. In essence, we are at war with these organizations and we should act as such:
“…this is truly unprecedented in history. And what we’re seeing is secrecy and surveillance are completely subverting security and liberty, not just in the United States, but for many, many citizens around the world.”This corporate misconduct and government surveillance is threatening the internet (2, 3), the original purpose of which was to create an “open architecture networking” system where “a globally interconnected set of computers” would allow “everyone” to “quickly access data and programs from any site”. So we have to be careful out there, at least until we have neutralized this threat.
Additional info at: “How the NSA Attacks Tor/Firefox Users With QUANTUM and FOXACID”
Jacob Appelbaum: NSA's FoxAcid/Quantum Programs "Like the Military Occupation of Entire Internet"
Further information regarding this subject available through the following two videos featuring Jacob Appelbaum in a Q&A workshop discussing computer security, mobile phone security, cellphone forensics, and state repression and surveillance.
Jacob Appelbaum (Part 1/2) Digital Anti-Repression Workshop - April 26 2012
Jacob Appelbaum (Part 2/2) Digital Anti-Repression Workshop - April 26 2012
As for how we can protect ourselves from these intrusions into our privacy? Aside from everything mentioned above in Jacob Appelbaum’s Q&A workshop, which included some brief remarks about open-source software and an in-depth discussion on maintaining anonymity by using the Tor Network and how to secure your cell phone and computer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has provided a 12 step program - originally publish in 2002 and still very relevant today - with some suggestion on how we can protect our online privacy:
The dangers of providing too much personal information cannot be over emphasized. It is up to us to make sure that we are protected not only from identity theft but also from private data mining organizations and governments that have developed massive data collection systems.
- Do not reveal personal information inadvertently.
- Turn on cookie notices in your Web browser, and/or use cookie management software or infomediaries.
- Keep a "clean" e-mail address.
- Don't reveal personal details to strangers or just-met "friends".
- Realize you may be monitored at work, avoid sending highly personal e-mail to mailing lists, and keep sensitive files on your home computer.
- Beware sites that offer some sort of reward or prize in exchange for your contact information or other personal details.
- Do not reply to spammers, for any reason.
- Be conscious of Web security.
- Be conscious of home computer security.
- Examine privacy policies and seals.
- Remember that YOU decide what information about yourself to reveal, when, why, and to whom.
- Use encryption!
* Additional suggestions from EFF at the Surveillance Self-Defense Project.
Privacy is an Illusion: Alessandro Acquisti at TEDxMidAtlantic
An open Internet is crucial for our development and growth as a collective, but this social networking can also occur without us providing sensitive information about our identity - Have you ever had a nickname that you loved? Have you ever wanted to create a nickname that represented who you have become? Did you ever want to be younger or older then you are? Did you ever want to have a different birth sign? - The Internet provides a great opportunity for us to create our second persona that will live in parallel with us, expanding our social network beyond our wildest dreams.
Through the Net, we can visit and live anywhere we want, and be anyone we want. The Internet is where we reside, it is our home, so until Social Networking Websites give us the option to choose the Internet as our hometown, we should travel the world. Keep in mind that even an alternative spelling of our name, a different birth day, or a fake address can help protect our anonymity.
By protecting our privacy we can diminish the power that these organizations have over us and ensure that we will not be mistreated:
“We need a comprehensive data privacy law. This law should protect all information about us, and not be limited merely to financial or health information. It should limit others' ability to buy and sell our information without our knowledge and consent. It should allow us to see information about us held by others, and correct any inaccuracies we find. It should prevent the government from going after our information without judicial oversight. It should enforce data deletion, and limit data collection, where necessary. And we need more than token penalties for deliberate violations.”The best way to stop these entities is to make fundamental changes to the system itself. This requires us to be educated in the methods in which we are controlled, allowing us to understand the problems that exist in the current system so we can avoid its pitfalls. Placement at the highest levels in government of ethical civil servants that are accountable to the people and regard the privacy of individuals as the most important aspect of their duties is an essential starting point. Decentralizing power is a crucial aspect of this process.
Due diligence is required from all of us to make sure that the Internet remains a free form of communication without bounds. We must help protect the largest library ever created so that it will remain accessible to all, making sure that it does not turn into a spiders web.